Sunday, April 08, 2012

Titanic: Amplified, Magnified & Rightly So

I've forgotten how strongly associated my childhood was with the television and big screen. I was eleven when I first watched Titanic and I didn't understand why my mom had 'a lump in her throat' when she watched Jack die. Today, I cried my eyes out watching this movie, after fifteen years when it was first released. The 3D added to it's magic and my sentiments were shared by many people who were reminded of the beauty that is Titanic, as a movie and as a lesson in life.

From Titanic, I learned that a woman should find a man who not only teaches her to fly, but supports her and gives her time to cherish the flight.

From the crowd of human beings, I am reminded that first-class or third-class, it doesn't matter - in the end we all fight for survival and become one on equal grounds.

From the woman in the lead role, I admire Rose's strength in the face adversity, for challenging her belief system onboard the magnificent ship, and for standing up for what she believed in. The image of her blowing the whistle with unwavering determination stays with me until now.

From the man in the lead role, I embrace the carefree-ness that is embodied in Jack Dawson, that which spurred the fire that he loved in Rose. Yet I also realize that the fire was in Rose all along, she ignited it herself when she decided to fight to live and grew to live the life of her dreams. The picture of her straddling a horse with a big smile stretched on her face is evident of that, as a promise to her lover as she became her new brave self.

From Rose, I learned the way to reject what her mother told her - if she had listened, she would have ended up with the short-tempered and disdainful Cal (and I can think of a lot more things to call him).

Every time I watch it, a new experience is formed, and my experience yesterday was heightened by 3D. If you're a fan, go watch it. If you're not, well then you suck.

My 13-year-old cousin gushed about how she would be able to see Leo's features up and close in 3D. It was nice to see a relic of my time being appreciated now in the 21st century because Leo does not look the same as he did.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Afternoon AGM

It was democratic for sure, which is why it lasted for about three hours. An Annual General Meeting with women - you bet it's not going to be over anytime soon. Every voice was given a chance to speak - those who had views threw it out to the rest of the table - without fear that there would be repercussions to speaking their minds. Something we surely lack in this country - encouraging people to speak. God forbid we give them a chance to be educated. Education really is key.

As the meeting began, I was excited; pumped at the possibilities that could arise, at the things I would hear, at the notes that I would take (surreptitiously at the back of course). We started out with minutes from the last meeting, then proceeded to finances. Yea, not my favourite thing in the world. My mind started to wander. I had to force myself to concentrate. Transportation fees? Honorarium hire? Fund-raising? (Hey, we can throw parties in the name of feminism right?).

That's when I realized though - it is the nitty-gritty details, the rentals and the materials to make posters, to print manuals and books...that make up the big picture. The mindless administrative work, the filing of documents, the recording. When the cause is right though, these things become secondary. I started to pay attention and learnt a few things - finance...easy-peasy right? And if all else fails, I can learn from the Google Gods.

Whatever it takes - learning to raise money, learning to balance a checkbook (or at least knowing who to hire), I think you can do anything when you heart is burning with all-consuming passion.

Yes I really am that naive, I reckon if you took a peek in my head, you'd hear a conversation that goes like this:

Mil (the Realist): So Mil, when you build a community centre, like you always wanted, where kids can play, learn to dance, play chess and all those fun kid-stuff things, how are you going to raise money for it?

Mil (me): Umm...I guess I'll ask the pretty rainbow fairies to slid down their colourful highways and loan me some money for my pretty community centre. And then I'll get my goblin homies to paint it up all purple.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's About Damn Time

I loved picking up the remnants of petals, that were scattered lovingly inside my car; groping around my car to get them all made me be afraid of running out of petals to pick up but there would always be one more that I didn't see earlier. It was everywhere; on the dirty floor mats (somehow remaining untouched and without dirt), on the backseat, between the seats.

I am also the lucky recipient of Simone de Beauvoir's the Second Sex - fully and totally unabridged! Just reading the Introduction was enough to blow my mind. I have a Bible now!

I am jobless, as of yesterday at 7p.m (funny thing is I still owe them one article - oh well, some things don't change). There are moments in a day where I'll get little bouts of panic or I'll be gripped by that foreign thing called fear. But I think I'll be just fine.

If nothing else, I'm happy to have a few days/weeks to clean because I think it's about damn time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Defeat Before Confrontation

It really bugs me when I experience negativity. At the risk of sounding like a New Age freak, it throws my whole being off balance and I find I need to readjust myself in case I fall off my precarious pole of naive beliefs. Am I naive for advocating positivity? Maybe. Do you laugh at people like that? Possibly.

But it irks me when people give up before even trying. It really just defeats the whole point of life. Also, what does it mean when you say you've failed? Doesn't it just mean that you gave up a few tries ago?

Just because you are uncomfortable experiencing rejection, disappointment, let-downs and No's doesn't mean that you can avoid it for the rest of your life. It is part of life. The point is that you tried. I think I've become fairly thick-skinned after working in the servicing industry and having to deal with angry white folks who didn't get their take-away on time. An extremely stressful period over the weekend when I had first started out my second waitressing job at Perth. It was maybe only the second weekend rush that I had experienced, having been thrown at the cashier station after little practice. I have a slow learning curve (no shock there, I am generally a slow person, yes I am the last person eating at almost every family meal) thus I usually am upfront about how long it might take me to learn something. But once I do, there is almost no problem.

So, there I was standing there like a fool, my mouth gaping at the stream of customers that invaded our small restaurant after 7p.m. And I panicked badly. My hands were shaking, my heart was beating fast and my throat slightly raw from screaming into the kitchen to call my co-worker. It wasn't the best of times. But if I hadn't been put on the war-zone, I never would have learnt how to be fast and how to respond to customers. Barely a year passed before I decided to set my sights on something bigger - and managed to, thanks to the informal but handy training I got from this small restaurant.

Persevere in rough times, and you'll reap rewards later. Oh and screw the naysayers.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Sixth day. I don't wake up craving it anymore. My mind is still a little confused, having been imprinted with the effects of nicotine. I don't think minds forget so easily, but I do know that I can adapt - most human beings can actually. It's a hungover from evolutionary times; to be able to adapt to almost any environment, to any routine, with any people. Why be afraid of change right?

I know I'm still being watched like a hawk though. Perhaps, I am expected to relapse because statistics say that smokers usually need between 2-4 attempts to finally quit for good. Relapses can happen anytime, especially with the trigger of bad news. Another fact I learnt is that smokers who were dependent on the cigarette during times of stress, frustration or anger, will find it harder to stop as there is no alternate way to manage stress for the moment. I was one of these smokers. I would crave a cigarette whenever Mom's nagging got the better of me, or when I needed a break from writing at work. The workplace is usually a source of stress, especially with deadlines and catty colleagues. But it doesn't have to be this way. As cheesy as this sounds, I just need a way to manage stress; one that doesn't include popping a plum tablet in my mouth even.

How do you manage stress, aside from the obvious breathing techniques? I remember as a teenager, back then before I tried cigarettes, my grandmother said something awful to me. She meant well, I think but I got upset (stupid swinging teenage hormones, I swear!) and ran from the dinner table in typical dramatic flair. I went to my room and sat in the corner. Finally, I reached over to push play on my CD player and Switchfoot's Dare you to Move came on. It was a song about moving along even after getting beaten down. Grandma might not have beaten me, but the music soothed me, like ice-cold lemonade to a parched throat.

I'm remembering what I was like when I was young - before cigarettes (maybe cigarettes helped the growing up process - I thought I was so cool, smoking along with my peers in college). I used to enjoy food, used to run around and be active a lot more, used music as an escape and I didn't need to get intoxicated to have a good time.

I always said I never wanted to grow up. It's time I regressed and found out why I eventually ended up selling out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Resisting the Urge

So it's the third day of my new life as a non-smoker and I have to say despite the crazy urges and almost giving up, I've made it this far. Never in the past six years have I gone this long without a cigarette and perhaps there was a time when I thought I could never do it.

I am drinking coffee right now and this is possibly the hardest challenge thus far. Coffee is like my morning booze and you know what goes very well with booze, yes those pretty little cancer sticks. Here are some things that have really helped me in the past three days:

1. Meditating/ taking deep breaths.
2. Distracting myself with almost anything, be it a phone call, talking to a friend, singing out loud (especially in the car which used to be my favourite place to smoke) and cursing cigs.
2. Eating 'asam' tablets, or better known as plum. This has helped immensely with the cravings; something about those tiny Pikin sourish circles that give me some sort of oral satisfaction.
3. Physical exercise, like badminton and swimming.
4. Listening to heavy metal and air drumming along (and cursing cigs as well).
5. Listening to calming music (when the cursing is over).
6. Thinking about how proud everyone will be of me.
7. Thinking of all the people who were skeptical (here's a middle finger to you, no seriously, stop dripping your negativity all over my clean sheets of positive energy, ASSHOLE).
8. Drinking or munching on something. I find even drinking something like soy bean helps me forget I want to smoke.
9. Creating new things to do to fill the time I used to spend smoking.
10. Pretending I have a stick between my fingers, putting the imaginary thing in my mouth and taking a long and satisfying puff (as stupid as I look, this really works).

I'll write more about my experience in the coming days. I feel like cigarettes have been my long-time lover and I am trying to get over this pack of stamina-robbing twigs. I think about them almost the whole day and I am longing for a day when I can finally say "I'm over you." And so help me God, I will.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My New Life As a Non-Smoker

So I finally took the plunge and decided to quit cigarettes. My reasons for this involved many things, of which include mortality, my Dad's mortality, the people I love, my poor lungs and hey, why not nurture my singing voice?

Today was the first day and it was a good challenge. More often than not, I felt like a fighter, putting my nose down at cigarettes and proud to be able to say NO! Other times got me thinking wistfully of these sticks, distant from a lost friend. I wrote a goodbye letter last night, and in it I put out the fact that cigarettes were like a friend to me, especially in my darkest hours. There was some sort of emotional attachment to a overrated box of cancer twigs. But I persevered, much to the surprise of many friends perhaps. My persona for the past six years had somehow gelded with cigarettes; many people associate me with Salems; one almost always in my hand, especially after meals or between work. Cigarettes were part of my routine, how I decided where to eat and and a constant companion especially on long car drives. In fact, my car had never known me as a non-smoker, having witnessed the many puffs I would take as I coast down a Malaysian highway, or crawl through a Malaysian jam. For 6 years, I held hands with cigarettes and now it is all over.

The bigger part of me is extremely happy, and has already planned many things to replace the habit (think lollipops). A small teeny tiny part of me is sad, because it feels like an era gone by. But even an era will eventually fade. And I have to remember that the good has to outweigh the bad and perhaps my trusted ciggies are more bad than good. Most definitely, I should say.

It's 2012 and the time has come to make some overhauls. The only thing I'm bringing with me from 2011 is the phrase "Why not?" Let's rock this joint.